By Don Klein
Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.
Ultimately, of course, the reaction to any television commercial is in the eye (and ear) of the beholder: What you perceive isn’t necessarily the same as what everyone else across America perceives, even though we’re seeing and hearing the exact same thing, often at the exact same time. And while that’s true for every commercial, some are potentially more polarizing than others. BMW’s “Caught” is a good case in point.
The spot opens on a boy of privilege picking up his exceedingly gorgeous prom date. After presenting her with a flower, he courteously escorts her to “his” new BMW, likely borrowed from Dad for the big night. We can see from her expression that she is both captivated and delighted. Meanwhile, the Charmed Child makes his way to the driver’s side by walking around the back of the car. When he thinks he’s safely out of sight, he does a little anticipatory victory dance in which he explicitly references her shapely figure. Then he caps it off with an air butt-slap. Even the upbeat soundtrack (The Sonics’ “Have Love, Will Travel”) confirms that things are going his way. But as he settles in behind the wheel, the mood abruptly changes. Blondie’s look of love has morphed into a death stare, and a glance to the Bimmer’s rearview camera screen tells us why: He’s been busted, Big Time. The kid’s boutonniere isn’t the only thing that wilts as he realizes what just happened, but before he can even muster up an excuse she surprises him (and the viewer) by leaning over and planting a big wet one squarely on his mouth. She then shoots him a look that makes me think maybe this isn’t her first prom. There’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the rearview camera not missing anything, and then it’s over.
My take away? I like it. A lot. On a rational level, I find it believable and appropriate that parents who have safe, mid-range luxury cars let their kids borrow them for special occasions like a prom. I understand and accept that there are beautiful women who at some point were beautiful teenagers, and that when they were, they sometimes went to their proms with guys who borrowed their fathers’ BMWs. (My date had to settle for my Dad’s Pontiac.) I accept that just because the kids in the commercial are rich—go back and look at her necklace; it’s probably her mother’s but stunning nonetheless—that doesn’t mean they’re bad people. In fact, I find them rather likable. And I find it totally believable that beautiful rich kids are subject to the same hormonal impulses as everyone else their age. Call me crazy, but I was glad when she kissed him. And that look she gives him. Didn’t the Black Eyed Peas have a hit based on nights like this? So good for him and his goofy sideburns. And good for her, too.
As for the rearview camera, its functionality isn’t news and BMW knows it. You can get one on a sub-twenty-grand Kia Rio, for Pete’s sake. But it’s a great excuse to do some brand bonding via a commercial that viscerally appeals to the guys who buy 3- and 5-series: When they see this commercial, they see themselves. They’re the guy with the hot car and the hot date. That’s what this commercial is all about. It has little to do with product features, or their own kids.
So that’s my perception. And I’m sure not everyone agrees. Some might find it sexist, claiming it demeans women by objectifying them, or that the actress sets a bad example by her aggressive behavior. Some might say it perpetuates stereotypes by glorifying spoiled rich kids. Some might deem it senseless because it doesn’t show a practical application of the camera (like every other manufacturer boringly does). And some—if they’re honest—might hate it just because it makes them jealous.
The Ad Section encourages healthy debate, so come on, folks: Am I the only one who thinks this is a terrific spot?
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver